This article examines Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 of the book of Judith from the perspective of the guidelines on speech-in-character found in Aelius Theon’s Progymnasmata (mid/end of the first century CE). According to the guidelines, it is important for an author of prose to achieve correspondence between the literary persona and the actual speech-in-character. This article examines the extent to which Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 observes Theon’s guidelines, as well as the theological implications of this.
Josephus offers one of our most extensive sources for the study of ancient Judaism, and his treatment of the Samaritans is no exception. In this article, I synchronize attention to Josephus’ representations of Samaritans with the turn in Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies towards the contestation of ancient “Israel” throughout antiquity. First, I argue that we see more clearly how Josephus actively constructs Samaritan identity by comparison to shared contestation of Israelite genealogy and geography in the Martyrdom of Isaiah, 4 Baruch, Pseudo-Philo, and Megillat Taʿanit. Second, I suggest that such an approach develops an alternative way to write ancient Jewish history with Josephus, incorporating his work into discussions of ancient Jewish self-representation beyond the choice between historical reality check or self-sustaining rhetoric.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews lived under Flavian lords who peppered Rome’s landscape with sculpted images of themselves, oftentimes suggesting that these images, and the emperors who stood behind them, functioned as gods in embodied form. This paper considers how these divine images impacted Jews, given that these same Jews lived under Roman authority yet also served the God of Israel alone. By analyzing Josephus’s Antiquities 11.331-334 in light of Israel’s strong anti-idolic tradition, I explore how the name of Israel’s God, inscribed on the high priest’s golden miter, may have functioned as visible counterpoint to the Flavians’ graven images. It is widely assumed that first-century Jews viewed God as invisible, incorporeal, and utterly removed from the material realm, but for Josephus at least God’s name offered a means by which Jews could gaze upon an aspect of their God in visible, perceptible, and material form.
Both the third and fifth books of the Sibylline Oracles engage with the threat and challenges of the political powers of their day, the Hellenistic and Roman respectively (Sib. Or. 3:657-714; 5:28-34, 155-161, 342-359). Both books also construe these powers as part of the reason for the arrival of God as Divine Warrior to execute judgement. In contrast to Alexandria Frisch, who argued that the Hellenistic Empire was the cause of greater Jewish critique, this article demonstrates that within the Sibylline tradition, the development in use of Jewish combat myth of the Divine Warrior across the two books actually shows the reverse. The texts from Sibylline Oracles 5 escalate the threat of the political enemy, not only depicting the Roman Empire and emperor within the cosmic drama, but as a force of chaos and agent of evil.
This article studies the use of τὰ πράγματα in Jewish literature written in Ptolemaic and early Imperial Egypt. While there was no Greek term for “empire” that aligns with the modern sense of an empire as a territorial polity, τὰ πράγματα most closely resembles our modern notion of empire. First, we analyze the range of meanings of πράγματα in Ptolemaic documents and literature. Next, we examine the uses of this concept in Jewish sources from Ptolemaic Egypt. Then, we investigate the shifting understandings of πράγματα in the Jewish sources from Roman Egypt. We conclude that Jewish texts have much more complex views of empire than the descriptors pro- or anti-empire allow. This approach redirects our attention from empire as a static and tangible entity to a dynamic suite of practices through which power is exercised and derived.